Introduction: This evening I want to preach a message I’ve preached before but not from the pulpit. I preached it in front of our fireplace last winter when we were snowed in and, if you remember, we came together on Facebook Live and Periscope. This sermon comes from one of my favorite passages from the Bible – Romans 15:13 and it’s called – “WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS.”
Today we are in part 3 of our series on worry and anxiety from the Sermon on the Mount called “PUTTING ANXIETY TO WORK” and today’s message is titled – “PURE MOTIVES, CLEAR LIFE.” Matthew 6 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Unfortunately, many Christians run from their surrounding or become indistinguishable from it. Instead, we are to be the flavor and the light. In other words, we are to make our world better tasting and brighter by our presence. We will be seeing through the Bible as well as history how God’s people reclaimed their world for God when they returned to this very important passage. As I've said it before, the best days of our nation are ahead. They may not look exactly like some past nostalgic era (which never existed) but they will be better than ever, where people will glorify our Father in heaven.
I’ll be honest with you - the final beatitude deals with a subject that I don’t like to think about because I had to experience it growing up. In America people talk about persecution and how good it is for the growth of the church and develops holiness and purity. Ironically, those who go through to it don’t talk about how wonderful it is. In fact, they do whatever they can to avoid it and fight against it. Persecution is the final beatitude for a reason. It is not something that we should look forward to. It is something we should do all we can to avoid, prolong, and work against. It is not something that God gives an extra something for. If you notice, the reward of persecution is no different than the one for the first beatitude - 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Unfortunately, it is a subject that we in America are having to face in a small degree. The response is not to brace ourselves and prepare for the worst. We need to strive to maintain and increase the presence of Christianity and biblical values in our country and beyond.
Human beings are prone to conflict. That’s in our sinful nature. The first conflict began in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve broke God’s commandment and ate the forbidden fruit. When God came and questioned them, the blame game began…and it continues to this day – spouses are in conflict, families are in conflict, neighbors are in conflict, communities are in conflict, nations are in conflict, and, unfortunately, even Christians are in conflict. God is the source of true peace and harmony. The only way we can have harmony is if those who claim the name of Christ start living in peace and become peacemakers in the world. For that to happen, we will have to reject the urge to be selfish and stubborn and seek to be Spirit-filled.
All Christians, especially in this generation, need to take a hard look at this beatitude. Although we desire righteousness, we do not hunger and thirst for it. Unfortunately, we are too satisfied with the things of this world and our own complacent Christianity. The Word of God is just something we pop into our lives like a breath mint. It doesn’t fill us but then again we are not seeking to be filled by it. We just want a little Christianity to fool those around us into thinking that we are good enough. First we will ask – what is true righteousness? Then we will ask – what does it mean to truly hunger and thirst. Finally we will see how this blessing applies in the Christian life and beyond.
This weekend I will be preaching a message titled “THE BLESSING OF BROKENNESS.” As we begin looking at the Beatitudes, we come across the first one - 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” First we will ask – what does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” Then we will ask – what does it mean by “the kingdom of heaven?” The passage teaches us the importance of brokenness in the Christian life. This goes quite contrary to our human nature. We want to be self-sufficient and strong but God wants us to trust Him and rely upon Him. When we begin to live by the spirit of brokenness, we demonstrate to the world what it means to enter the kingdom of heaven. Our brokenness not only blesses us but also blesses those around us.
In our series on the life of Christ we come now to the Beatitudes. This passage has been interpreted in various ways throughout the history of the church. There have been numerous debates about whether or not it is applicable to the believers today. The titles range from “The Secret to the Blessed Life” to “The Blessings of the Christian Life.” Could it be that we are missing the very essence and purpose of this passage? When we read it carefully we notice that the blessing passages are leading towards Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” The Beatitudes were not given to help us in our own personal lives as much as to live a life impacting the world around us. This is one message that you cannot afford to miss! It will not only challenge us to live a life of blessing but also help us transform the world around us.
John tells us in chapter 1 that Jesus was “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” The adjective “true” cautions us that there are many false lights. There is no doubt that we are living in darkness but the real issue is are we looking to the false lights to light up our lives. Jesus is the true light of the world who immediately sets everything into clear view – Sin is exposed, holiness is revealed, and salvation is offered. Without Christ we will continue to live in darkness in our homes, relationships, and spiritual lives. With Christ our world comes alive. Have you ever received the light of Jesus in your life?